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View Diary: Can FEMA Do Anything Right? (222 comments)

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  •  Is it FEMA, or is it Rove? (none)
    I think the whole fiasco of delayed Federal response was a typical Rovian political strategy. I've found articles by the South Florida Sun- Sentinel about the indiscriminate hand-outs by FEMA after last year's four hurricanes, and this gem below from a WaPo article:

    "Homeland Security sources said after the hurricanes that Brown and his allies promoted him as a successor to Tom Ridge as Homeland Security secretary because of their contention that he helped deliver Florida to President Bush  by efficiently responding to the Florida hurricanes.

    FEMA spokesman Natalie Rule said yesterday that there is "no truth" to the assertion that Brown angled to be secretary by citing his hurricane record. She denied that political considerations played a role in FEMA's Florida actions."

     Other articles:

    Hurricane Politics in Florida -- and Everywhere Else
    The media has so far only given a passing glance to the major report issued this week by the inspector general of the Department of Homeland Security about misuse of FEMA money in the wake of Florida's 2004 hurricanes.
    Institute for Southern Studies, May 20. 2005

     The above article contains further links, including one to a scholarly article whose authors are quoted: "Did the federal government play politics in its response to the 2004 hurricanes in Florida? We should only be surprised if this were not the case."  Their scholarly work tracks declaration of disasters with presidential campaigns: Discretion Without Accountability: Politics, Flood Damage, and Climate

    From another Sun-Sentinel article about the 2004 hurricanes:

    State records show Bush re-election concerns played part in FEMA aid

    "The Republican National Convention was winding down, and President Bush had only a slight lead in the polls against Democrat John Kerry. Winning Florida was key to the president's re-election. FEMA should pay careful attention to how it is portrayed by the public, Garcelon wrote in the memo, conveying "the team effort theme at every opportunity" alongside state and local officials, the insurance and construction industries, and relief agencies such as the Red Cross.

    "What FEMA cannot afford to do is back itself into a corner by feeling it has to be the sole explainer and defender for everything that goes wrong," he wrote. "Further, this is not what the President would want. Plenty is going to go wrong, and his Department of Homeland Security does not want to assume responsibility for all of it."

    Garcelon, a former FEMA employee, recommended that "top-level people from FEMA and the White House need to develop a communication strategy and an agreed-upon set of themes and communications objectives."

    "Communication consultants from the President's re-election campaign should be brought in," he wrote. "Above all, everybody's got to understand that no amount of flogging DHS/ FEMA will insure that the recovery will go perfectly. This is going to be a huge mess. The public needs to be prepared for it."
    ----
    "The very first points [of Garcelon's memo] have to do with shirking blame and calling in the president's re-election experts," McLaughlin said. " It only serves to underscore why we have to investigate how FEMA spent the hurricane money because there are just too many questions."

     So, I think it would not be far-fetched to surmise a strategy of delay to disgrace/blame the Louisiana Democratic leadership for the tragic suffering and loss of life; then Bush and the Feds come to the rescue. The stories of FEMA people on site turning back boaters; failing to deliver food; preventing the Coast Guard from delivering fuel; not permitting the Wal-Mart water trucks to deliver; telling the navy hospital ship to go to Mississippi, etc, show that 'the troops' did indeed rush to the rescue early in the week, but stood around waiting for Bush's most opportune moment.  And apparently one report of a gunshot fired at a helicopter was shown by the FAA to be false. This was used anyway as an excuse to halt rescues. Civil disturbance is a ground for federalization of control. Couple this with rumors of a behind-the-scenes struggle between Governor Blanco and the DHS/WH for Federal control......
    ------------------------------------

    Now this cynical dollop of whipped cream:

    New Orleans 2008

    "No single step would go further to dramatize the GOP's commitment to rebuilding New Orleans than announcing now that the party's 2008 convention will be held in the recovering city. Such a move would signal the party's confidence in the Big Easy's renewal, and put it at the forefront of what should be similar commitments from private actors to do their part to help New Orleans come back.Critics will call it a transparent attempt to burnish the party's image after the Bush administration "failed" with the initial relief effort. The gesture would, however, reflect the genuine sentiment of Republicans who, like all Americans, want to help a city facing such a bleak future. We heard similar complaints -- easily brushed off -- about the Republicans' coming to New York for last year's convention."

    •  More on FEMA and politics (none)
      In my comment here.

      Eternal vigilance is the price of liberty. - Thomas Jefferson

      by jorndorff on Mon Sep 05, 2005 at 02:23:57 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  I live in South Florida, (none)
      and live in the area where the eye of Katrina passed over. First comment: although it was called a CAT 1, the damage in some places exceeds damage from Andrew and other storms. Old oak trees have cracked (not from lightning, either), sidewalks upturned, and the number of trees down is incredible. Many homes flooded, and I personally know numerous people who sustained losses to their property.

      Second comment: it was a big deal here (there were protestors spotted here and there) that the governor requested federal dollars, was told he would receive them, then the aid was said to be revoked--or had never been awarded. The outcry was terrible.

      Third comment: obviously FEMA handed out too much money last year, a big chunk mind you did not end up in deceitful citizens' hands, but in the hands of the orange growers associations. FEMA should not have handed out money left and right in MIAMI for storms that barely touched us, if at all. The worst last year, in all honesty, was being told, again, to lock ourselves, our children, etc. in the house, for an indefinite period. Yet FEMA did hand out the money, and was defrauded in some cases.

      So when did this government agency become able to (claim to) be punitive, as in "too bad for you, because some lied last year, NONE of you get any money this year, for an actual storm" even when there are documented families suffering.

      This is a terrible situation, and is directly related to all the other FEMA comments. My comments should in no way be interpreted, either, as suggesting that S. FL. was in worse (or equal) shape as LA and MS; I thought I would just add what I have witnessed.

      •  I'm aware of the facts you state in your (none)
        comment. I read a Miami Herald article of 9/1/05 about the very issue you describe. It is not an election year this year, thus Florida's votes are not needed right now. Although Louisiana went for Bush in 2004, the Governor, Mayor of New Orleans, and one Senator (Landrieu) are Democrats. Looking at the election results map linked above, you see that New Orleans went for Kerry. Karl Rove is a political animal with a ruthless plan to turn the entire country Republican, permanently. He saw in Katrina a tool to be used as part of that plan, no matter the cost. Another benefit may redound to Cheney and his oil infrastructure cohorts, if there are condemnations that serve the purpose of freeing up land for more refineries, etc., now that federal reconstruction relief can be made to come with strings attached. It all sounds far-fetched, but only if you care about the human beings involved, which they don't, as they've already demonstrated.

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